Exercise May Reduce Memory Loss in Older Adults

Aerobic exercise appears to increase hippocampal volume, reversing age-related decline

TUESDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Aerobic conditioning may prevent hippocampus shrinking and memory loss in older adults, according to research published online Jan. 31 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Kirk I. Erickson, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues randomly assigned 120 older adults without dementia to an aerobic exercise group or a stretching group to investigate the effect aerobic exercise has on the volume of the hippocampus.

The researchers found a 2 percent increase in hippocampal volume in the aerobic exercise group, a reversal of age-related volume loss by one to two years, while the stretching group experienced a decline of about 1.4 percent, which is consistent with normal aging. Better fitness before the intervention had an attenuating effect on decline.

"These theoretically important findings indicate that aerobic exercise training is effective at reversing hippocampal volume loss in late adulthood, which is accompanied by improved memory function," the authors write.

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